Babies in prams can be exposed to up to 60% more pollution than adults, study says

A review of factors surrounding the air pollution exposure to in-pram babies and mitigation strategies

New study say infants are exposed to dirtier air in prams because they are lower to the ground and closer to exhaust pipes. Covering your pram will help protect your baby from air pollution, NHS News reports, August 15 2018.


  • Exposure quantification of in-pram babies and potential mitigation efforts reviewed.
  • Pollutant exposure to in-pram babies can exceeds adult’s exposure by up to 60%.
  • First 1 m above road level important for exposure in breathing zone (~0.85 m) sitting babies
  • Breathing height of in-pram babies lies where concentrations are usually the greatest.
  • Both technology and community-driven measures are needed for exposure mitigation.


Air pollution exposure to in-pram babies poses a serious threat to their early childhood development, necessitating a need for effective mitigation measures. We reviewed the scientific and grey literature on in-pram babies and their personal exposure to traffic generated air pollutants such as particulate matter ≤10 μm (PM10), ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5), ≤0.10 μm (ultrafine particles) in size, black carbon and nitrogen oxides and potential mitigation pathways. In-pram babies can be exposed up to ~60% higher average concentrations depending on the pollutant types compared with adults. The air within the first few meters above the road level is usually most polluted. Therefore, we classified various pram types based on criteria such as height, width and the seating capacity (single versus twin) and assessed the breathing heights of sitting babies in various pram types available in the market. This classification revealed the pram widths between 0.56 and 0.82 m and top handle heights up to ~1.25 m as opposed to breathing height between 0.55 and 0.85 m, suggesting that the concentration within the first meter above the road level is critical for exposure to in-pram babies. The assessment of flow features around the prams suggests that meteorological conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction) and traffic-produced turbulence affect the pollution dispersion around them. A survey of the physicochemical properties of particles from roadside environment demonstrated the dominance of toxic metals that have been shown to damage their frontal lobe as well as cognition and brain development when inhaled by in-pram babies. We then assessed a wide range of active and passive exposure mitigation strategies, including a passive control at the receptor such as the enhanced filtration around the breathing zone and protection of prams via covers. Technological solutions such as creating a clean air zone around the breathing area can provide instant solutions. However, a holistic approach involving a mix of innovative technological solutions, community empowerment and exposure-centric policies are needed to help limit personal exposure of in-pram babies.

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